DETROIT (FOX 2) - Tudor Dixon, a Republican running for governor of Michigan, told FOX 2 on Thursday that the Grand Rapids police officer's shooting of Patrick Lyoya was an act of self-defense and that the 26-year-old man should have obeyed orders from the officer.
Dixon, a former steel executive, announced her candidacy for governor but is facing a steep challenge for the GOP ticket. On Thursday, she joined FOX 2's Let It Rip to discuss a myriad of issues, including the Grand Rapids shooting of Lyoya and Governor Gretchen Whitmer's policies.
Critics have called the shooting of Lyoya an "execution" because he was not armed. However, Dixon defended the use of force by the police officer, arguing that Lyoya was not unarmed.
"He had taken the police officer's Taser. For a minute, the police officer asked him to drop the Taser, demanded he drop the Taser. He refused to do that. He's struggling. That police officer was at the point that he knew that his life was in danger," Dixon said.
She continued, saying that the nation ‘glorifies criminals and criminalizes police’ and that's a larger problem that police departments are left to deal with.
"This is new, that we criminalize police. We struggle to get police into our...departments today. police don't want to be in our police departments because of this very thing because when there's an incident like this, the police officer is immediately criminalized," Dixon said.
Lyoya was pulled over for a license plate issue, a misdemeanor. He got out of his car as soon as he was pulled over and he and the officer struggled for some time. The officer pulled out his Taser and deployed it twice. Lyoya got his hands on the Taser and the officer demanded he drop the weapon before ultimately pulling out his gun and shooting him in the back of the head.
Dixon said that the officer had no choice but to use deadly force to protect himself and the community.
"He's in a situation where this man has his taser. He's in a situation where his life is at risk and he doesn't know who else in the community is at risk. If that officer is Tased and (Lyoya) grabs his gun, what is the next step there? How much danger is the community in?"
FOX 2's Charlie Langton argued that he should have let Lyoya go as he was stopped for a misdemeanor and then asked if policies need to be changed or reinforced. Dixon then pivoted to say that the media immediately criminalizes the police officer.
WATCH: The full Let It Rip interview below:
"It's not going to help that the media immediately comes out and criminalizes the police officer in this case. That's the problem that we face, and we face it across the country - that our police are under attack. I've talked to many of our retired police officers, and they say this is the exact reason you could easily lose your life and go behind bars or get killed and nobody's going to come to the defense of the police officer. If they had gotten their way and the police officer were the one were was dead today, would we be talking about it?"
Ultimately, Dixon said that Lyoya should have listened to the officer's commands.
"What needed to happen was that he needed to obey what the police officer said. If we don't have law and order in this country, what do we have? That is the basic right of people, is to have law and order. So you adhere to what police officers say," Dixon said.